My lab is uniquely poised to develop and implement in-situ nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and small angle neutron scattering (SANS) techniques to understand various liquid-phase and heterogeneous catalytic reactions of biomass. For example, using a high-pressure and -temperature SANS reaction cell, we will perform in-situ SANS experiments on lignin undergoing catalytic depolymerization. We are interested in making novel contributions to improvements in biomass characterization to understand biomass recalcitrance.
A new area I am exploring is the ways that biomass recalcitrance relates to how plant adapt themselves in response to mechanical stimuli. The protection of the plant cell wall against breakdown is central to cell homeostasis and to how cells direct growth of the plant. As part of a NSF Science and Technology Center for Engineering Mechanobiology, I am interesting in developing a new analytical tool-kit to uncover fundamental relationship between biomass compositional and mechanical properties.